When you visit the Quinttown region of Orford, you step back in time. Leaving 25A and driving south east on a narrow dirt road the houses become fewer and further between. The road follows Mousley Brook, and twists and turns alongside of it. The houses this far out are small camps with no electricity. If you follow the road until its end the trees open up, the sun breaks through, and rolling hills and pasture appear with a small barn and shed along the road.
This is Mountain View Farm Conservation Area. The land is owned and managed by UVLT but once belonged to Billy Brown, a reclusive and locally famous hill farmer at the turn of the twentieth century. There has been much conjecture about Billy’s life and some alive and living in Orford still recollect the quiet and self-reliant man from trading goods at his home when they were children or seeing him occasionally drive into town with his horse and cart. (More information about Billy Brown’s life can be found here).
The mystery around Billy Brown’s life makes Mountain View Farm a place of interest for many historians in the area, but what is equally interesting are the historic structures Billy left behind. The barn and shed are all that remain of Billy’s original homestead. They are not things of beauty, they aren’t structures built through community barn raisings, not the English style barns of the first New England settlers, and not the grand round barns that still dot our hillsides. Billy Brown’s barns were built by him and him alone, a true testament to Yankee ingenuity and grit.
By hand and alone Billy put these structures together bit by bit and piece by piece. They served as animal housing, hay loft, storage space, and workshop. They are pieces of the history of Quinttown, the history of Billy Brown, and the history of our Yankee spirit and industry.
The barns are in disrepair after years of weather and semi-neglect. The Upper Valley Land Trust would like to stabilize and restore these structures so that they keep their historic connection to the property and people can connect to the life of Billy Brown and Orford’s history. None of the buildings will be made into finished space; work will be focused simply to stop any rot and repair major structural deficiencies. We hope to incorporate a display space in part of the barn so that visitors can learn about the property’s history.
We expect to use a mix of skilled and unskilled volunteer labor, and hire professional carpentry assistance if needed for certain tasks. We estimate that building materials required will about $5,000. A generous donor has started us off with a $1,000 gift. We need your help to raise the other $4,000 and keep Billy Brown’s barns standing.
You can click here to read more about this project in the Billy Brown’s Barns Fundraising Brochure, which includes a breakdown of the projects and associated costs. To make a gift to this project you can send a check to 19 Buck Road Hanover, NH 03766 with “Mountain View Barns” in the memo line. You can also make a gift online here and choose the designation “Mountain View Barn Restoration”. If you have questions or would like to make a donation over the phone, please call us at (603)643-6626.